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Chef Eric Sayers - Executive Chef, CQ’s Restaurant

Kraft on Craft—Eric Sayers Takes the Kraft Challenge

A chef at a progressive American restaurant finds inspiration with Kraft.

Eric Sayers is the executive chef at CQ’s Restaurant at Harbour Town, located at Sea Pines, Hilton Head Island, S.C. Fresh seafood is always the catch of the day here, which he approaches with a contemporary American philosophy. His menu follows the seasons, refreshing five times a year. Currently, diners can anticipate dishes like Carolina Scallops with Herb Gnocchi in a Parmesan-Herb Broth and a Mojito Glazed Local Swordfish with Cucumber-Tomato Quinoa and Minted Sweet-Pea Purée—light, fresh fare reflecting both the season and the restaurant’s sensibility.

Hearing that Chef Sayers was a fan of Kraft products, we called upon him to create a fresh, al fresco-inspired recipe. He came back to us with his Sweet and Tangy South Carolina Shrimp over an Heirloom Tomato and English Cucumber Salad. He tosses the shrimp in Grey Poupon Bistro Sauce embellished with Sweet Thai Chili Sauce, lemon juice and sesame seeds. “I’m really happy with how the flavors of the sweet shrimp played against the flavors of the Bistro Sauce,” says Chef Sayers. “The result is a really bright profile, with a nice bouncing back and forth of flavors.”

Sweet and Tangy South Carolina Shrimp

A balance of dynamic flavors

For this recipe, Chef Sayers sources local wild shrimp, pulled from the waters surrounding the Gulf Coast. “South Carolina shrimp are firm and sweet, and I need a sauce that complements them really well without overwhelming them,” he says. For a crunchy texture, he lightly coats the shrimp with flour and egg wash, then fries them in oil. He tosses them in the embellished Grey Poupon Bistro Sauce. “The Bistro has a nice horseradish kick and brings in that creaminess I was looking for,” says Chef Sayers. “I wanted a little sweetness in there, so I added Thai Chili Sauce.”

For the accompanying salad, he combines heirloom tomatoes with English cucumber, mâche and fresh basil. He tosses that with Kraft Balsamic Vinaigrette Dressing, which brings in a nice harmony of sweet and acid. “This salad gives me the clean flavor of cucumber with the freshness of tomatoes—it’s a perfect summery salad,” says Chef Sayers.

Behind the chef

“Food is my hobby and my career,” says Chef Sayers. “I love everything about it.” He started his career as an entry-level cook, but the head chef recognized Chef Sayers’ passion, and encouraged him to go to culinary school. He graduated with honors from The Culinary Institute of America, Hyde Park, N.Y., in 1991. “It taught me discipline and patience,” he says.

The clientele at CQ’s varies from tourists in the spring and summer to golfing fans in the fall and locals in the winter. “I love serving each group, and anticipating what they’re hungry for,” says Chef Sayers.

How does he measure the success of a dish? “Our guests are pretty vocal, and our servers do a great job of letting the kitchen know what’s selling well. And if the servers are excited about my food, I know my customers will be—they’re the best culinary ambassadors!”

Chef Sayers unplugged

Local ingredients inspire Chef Sayers. “Using local products keeps you moving with the seasons, so it keeps your menu fresh and exciting,” he says. At CQ’s, he sources fresh seafood, and also brings in beef and game. Flair to his contemporary American cuisine comes from a classical French influence, in evidence in such dishes as his Spice Rubbed Local Wreckfish with a Yellow Tomato Béarnaise, White Asparagus and Old Bay Potatoes.

“I rely on Kraft because the products I use are often great building blocks for me,” says Chef Sayers. “I can build on a solid, consistent base when I use them.”

Here are a few highlights from our interview with Chef Sayers:

KRAFT:

If you were sent to a desert island, what 3 ingredients would you take with you?

SAYERS:

Garlic, olive oil, bacon.

KRAFT:

What is your favorite kitchen tool?

SAYERS:

A large spoon—good for saucing and plating.

KRAFT:

Who would you most like to cook for?

SAYERS:

My culinary hero—Charlie Trotter.

KRAFT:

Where was the last place you dined?

SAYERS:

At Five Guys in Savannah. I had a bacon cheeseburger with everything on it and french fries.

KRAFT:

What is your favorite Kraft product?

SAYERS:

A.1. is my favorite. Oh, and the Bistro Sauce. The overall flavor of the Bistro lends itself to so many preparations—seafood, beef, chicken, vegetables.

Braised Short Ribs in Honey-Bistro Sauce

For Chef Sayers’ delicious Braised Short Ribs in Honey-Bistro Sauce, pulled and served over a Celery-Radish Salad. “I embellish the Bistro Sauce with honey, ketchup, Kraft Mayo, lemon juice and zest, brown sugar and cayenne,” he says. “The Bistro Sauce makes a great base for this easy, homemade barbecue sauce.”

Grey Poupon Bistro Sauce - Looking for more information on Grey Poupon Bistro Sauce? Click here

Even more inspiration with Kraft

Chef Sayers menus a Grilled Romaine Salad with a Strawberry Balsamic Vinaigrette. He tosses the salad with Kraft Strawberry Balsamic Vinaigrette Dressing, and tops it with brie and spiced almonds. “It’s a wonderful dressing, giving me the sweet flavor of strawberries with the clean, fruity flavors of extra-virgin olive oil.”

Chef Sayers - CQ’s Restaurant